“Can you tell what I’m thinking?”
“That I’m never going to win this, that your corporate integrity or your blood oath to profit will guarantee a shutdown. That I’m a fool to even try.”
“That with your face flushed like that I want to kiss you more than I’ve ever wanted anything. That I want to—there’s a supply closet in this hall—God, I’m sorry, Maggie. I shouldn’t talk like that, shouldn’t admit to thinking like that. You’ve got me all riled up.”
“Did you say riled up?” I giggled.
“I think we’re getting to you after all if you say riled. There may be hope for you yet, Company Man. And as for what you should be sorry for, it’s not thinking like that. It’s being the enemy so you can’t follow through. Because I know exactly where that supply closet is at and what I’d like to do there.”
“Get cleaning supplies?”
“And proper safety gloves obviously,” I said, “I can’t imagine you thought I would consider anything else. I’m sure there are safety regulations about what can be kept in those closets, and how many people can be in them at once.”
“Two,” he said. “Limit of two.”
“So if we were both in there, I wouldn’t be a safety violation?” I teased.
“There would be violation going on, but it wouldn’t involve safety regulations. It would be you bent over that sink, meeting my eyes in the cloudy mirror above it.”
I wanted to die when he said that, because it was exactly what I’d imagined.
“We had our last kiss. We agreed to part as enemies,” I said almost sadly.
“Who said anything about kissing?” he said, his voice rough.
I tried to swallow, but my mouth had gone completely dry. I looked around, trying to ground myself, make myself think sensibly. My gaze settled on the camera in the ceiling. Somewhere in the building someone was monitoring all the halls and work areas for safety reasons. There was no way in hell I was going to be caught on camera going into a supply closet with the enemy. That was my concern in the moment, not breaking my vow not to get involved with him, but that I’d be caught, that people would know that I was sleeping with the enemy, or at least fucking him in closets. I couldn’t let that happen. I stepped back. He stepped toward me.
“Camera,” I said stupidly.
“It’s not set on record. If no one is watching that screen at this second, they’d never know a thing,” he said, and it was so tempting I should’ve gone straight to church. I shook my head.
“I’ll see you at softball. You’re going down, Leeds, just like the visiting team. We’re going to win you over. You’re going to like this town and this factory too much to destroy them. I’ll see to it.”
“If I wasn’t working for Hadley. If I was just passing through, staying at your parents’ inn, would it change anything” he asked.
I knew what he wanted me to say. He wanted me to tell him that if he weren’t my enemy, I’d go to bed with him in a heartbeat, that if all that stood between us was the fact that I didn’t do flings or one-night stands, then I’d break that rule and stretch out across the linen sheets of that four poster bed and let him do anything he wanted to me. But I could not say that to him. Admitting it would be shameful, and there was no point encouraging him even a little. Things weren’t different. Things were the same as ever, with all the odds staked against us.
“If you were just passing through? You’d never come visit a place like this. Who are you kidding?” I said, a little harshly to avoid answering the real question.
“Why not? It’s beautiful here, the people are friendly, the inn itself is lovely. I’d come here for a long weekend. If I had, would you have said yes to me?”
“If you were only some stranger and you came to the inn for check-in and I was behind the desk. No reservation?”
“No. A walk in, a stranger looking for a room for the night,” he said. I warmed to the fantasy. In my mind I worked behind the counter alone, and he came in, looking tired, looking rumpled and handsome as hell.
“What would you do?”
“I’d ask if you wanted coffee or something strong,” I said, a little breathless.
“What if I said all I wanted was you, the beautiful girl behind the counter?”
“I’d say I wasn’t on the menu. That you had a long trip and needed some rest.”
“What if I didn’t rest alone? What if you came to show me to my room?”
I stepped back, “You’re welcome to attend the softball game tomorrow. But that’s all. We agreed.”
“I’ll see you there,” he said with a smile.